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The Health Benefits of Moringa

While we can grow some superfoods in our own backyards (spinach and kale), others come from more exotic locales across the world. Moringa is one such superfood that you'll want to stock up on, and fast. Here is everything you need to know about the benefits of moringa, including why it's worth hunting down.

What Is Moringa

The proper name—moringa oleifera—is a plant native to dry, tropical climates, says Lisa Dierks, RD, LDN, wellness dietitian at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program. The trees can grow to be 30 feet tall and are commonly found in West Africa, South Asia, and South America. Some parts of the trees, like the bark, leaves, sap, flowers, and seeds, are used to make medicine. The plant could actually play a part in spreading nutrition around the world, particularly in places that need it most. "Because the plant is resistant to drought and easy to cultivate, research is ongoing in how the plant may help alleviate malnutrition in certain areas of the world," Dierks says.

Even though Dierks says the leaves and seeds are the most commonly consumed part of the plant, the easiest way to consume it is in powder form, which can be found at a health food store or even on the ingredients list of your favorite granola bars, Dierks says. Just steer clear of moringa root and its extracts. They could be toxic, says Alexandra Miller, RDN, LDN, corporate dietitian at Medifast, Inc.

The Health Benefits of Moringa

The leaf form of moringa is loaded with antioxidants, while the powdered form can help people with diabetes control their blood sugar, finds a study published in Phytotherapy Research. Moringa also packs seven times the vitamin C of oranges, a key vitamin to keeping our bones, teeth, and skin healthy, Miller says. "One teaspoon of powder has less than 10 calories and provides 47 milligrams of vitamin C," Dierks adds. That's over 60 percent of your daily recommendation. Gram for gram, moringa overflows with even more ways to positively affect your health. But these nutritional benefits are somewhat limited by its small serving size. In one serving, for instance, you'll score potassium and vitamin A—but just a minimal amount, Dierks says. That doesn't mean you should go overboard and have seven servings instead of one. Anything over one teaspoon could lead to an upset stomach, Dierks says.

How to Eat Moringa

Moringa powder can be added to everything from smoothies and oatmeal to pancake and waffle batter. Stir it into guacamole or hummus. Use it in an avocado smash. Or try it in this Morgina-Basil Pesto recipe below.

Moringa-Basil Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups fresh basil
  • 4 tablespoons moringa powder
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil

Directions:
In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients, adding cheese and oil last. Store in airtight container in the fridge for 4-6 days or freeze in ice cube trays.

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